Friday, November 29, 2019

Thanksgiving 2019 wrap-up

It's been a while since I shared family photos, and since many of you have seen my nieces and nephew grow up on this blog, I thought I'd share an update from our Thanksgiving celebration at my sister's house yesterday, where Daddy, Aunt Jane, Alex, and I joined in the feasting.

Here's our menu: Turkey, dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes, homemade rolls, macaroni and cheese, sweet potato casserole, seven-layer salad, deviled eggs, broccoli casserole, green been casserole, olives, cranberry sauce, coconut cake, chocolate chip pie, and lots of sweet and unsweet iced tea. I'll bet your menu had quite a few items in common with ours!

We have a tradition at Thanksgiving of presenting new Christmas ornaments to our nieces, nephew, and our grandchildren (the grands are all celebrating out of town this year). Oldest niece Madison bought her first home this year (she has a great job in sales and did this at just twenty-three!), so this "New Home 2019" ornament seemed perfect for her.

Middle niece Cari is a huge fan of all things Marvel, so she got the Captain Marvel ornament.

If any of you happen to be watching the Dolly Parton "Heartstrings" series on Netflix, that's Cari at far right, in the episode "Down from Dover."

Youngest niece Amelia remains a huge dog lover, so she got a Yule Dog ornament that will probably feature a photo of her favorite dog, Missy. (She has five or six; it's easy for me to lose count.) Amelia and Madison ran a 5K together on Thanksgiving morning, beginning a new tradition for them.

And nephew Matthew remains devoted to all things Spider-Man, so he got the Spidey Claus ornament this year.

I hope your own Thanksgiving celebration was a wonderful one!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 25, 2019

Christmas shopping for little girls

I don't currently have any very little girls in my family that I'm Christmas shopping for, so I especially enjoy looking for toys for the charitable giving in my community at this time of year. And years ago, the very wise woman who headed up our town's gift collection for foster children told me there was a real need for dolls and gifts that didn't just picture white little girls, and that always impressed me. So now, I try to be intentional about looking for gifts that a black or brown little girl would enjoy. Disney toys are always a hit, so this set from Ollie's caught my eye.

Hopefully, some little girl will enjoy playing with a Royal Palace Tea & Chocolate Set. I would!

I love that the box looks like a cabinet.

The bright colors are so different from the usual pink and pastel tea sets I always see.

I like the cups too!

And because my friend told me there is always a need for black dolls, I scooped up this Barbie when I saw her. Since your town is probably collecting toys for a giveaway as well, I wanted to share a few ideas that just might delight the future tea (and doll) lovers in our midst!

Friday, November 22, 2019

Colonel Brandon's teatime

I do not watch a lot of videos online. I’d rather read something than view something, so I tend to scroll on past when someone on Facebook says, “This cute video will only take five minutes to watch…” I’m imagining all the things I could be doing in those five minutes, so I skip the viewing and move along.

That said, I just discovered the “Epic Tea Time” video starring (the late, sadly) Alan Rickman. Some of you probably know him from Harry Potter, but to me, he will always be Colonel Brandon from Sense and Sensibility. And yes, I officially enjoyed watching a seven-minute video of him having a cup of tea.

According to the article I found on, this video is part of the Portraits in Dramatic Time series by David Michalek, each “glacially paced” portrait offering “a physical metaphor for an emotional condition,” and the videos were originally projected onto a building at Lincoln Center. I don’t know why I find this tea video so fascinating, but I do.

(Learn more here.)

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Eleanor Roosevelt and a White House tea for a cause

Oh, I do love the tea photos I find on the Library of Congress website! This one from 1939 was taken after a tea, but still. Here's what it says: "White House tea given for women leaders in the 'fight infantile paralysis' campaign, Washington, D. C. January 11. Following a tea at the White House today, Mrs. Roosevelt and prominent women leaders in the 'fight infantile paralysis' campaign broadcast over a coast-to-coast network the urgent need for more institutions for the rehabilitation of infantile paralysis patients in this country. L to r: Margaret McBride, known as Martha Dean of the radio; Mrs. Gifford Pinchot, Mrs. Harry Woodring; Rep. Edith Nourse Rogers; and Cathreen Carrico, of Clinton, Md, who contracted infantile paralysis when a small child and who staged a remarkable recovery. She now sings over the radio."

And were you surprised to a see a female member of the House of Representatives in the group? I was. She was the first woman to be elected to Congress from Massachusetts, and I learned more about her impressive life here.

Monday, November 18, 2019

An unexpected tea gift

I have been to quite a few Holiday Open House events in stores over the past two weekends, and when I shopped at my friend Nancy's Carriage House antiques shop in Senoia last weekend, she rang me up and then reached up on a shelf and handed me an early Christmas gift!

When I got home, I was delighted to discover the gift bag contained two new bags of tea—one a cherry rose green tea, the other a gunpowder green—and an adorable kitten tea infuser.

You know, I don't believe I've had cherry rose green tea much outside of a tea room, but it is a blend I believe must be a perennial favorite since it's so often on the menu, and it's the one I decided to try first, saving the gunpowder tea to open on another day. This one, from Metropolitan Tea Company, is as delicious (and pretty) as I remember, and I feel so pampered in having a nice big bag of it to sip all on my own!

And the funny thing about this infuser is that a display of these actually caught my eye while I was shopping that day, but I told myself no, I didn't technically *need* a new tea infuser. Yet I was drawn to it because it made me think of the cat character in my novel that came out this year. (And for the record, I am allergic to cats and don't have any. I've learned that many readers saw me in my characters, but my heroine's love for her cat is purely fictional. I'd be sneezing my head off!) But perhaps because of my fictional kitty, I find this little gal particularly adorable. What a delightful early-in-the-season gift!

Friday, November 15, 2019

The teacup cards go to …

Joan! And I've just sent her an email on how to claim her prize. Congrats, Joan!

Tea books … new and coming titles

Have any of you heard of the book Infused by Henrietta Lovell? Since I am an avid reader of tea books, I am always surprised when I accidentally discover a new tea book, and this one was mentioned at the bottom of one of the umpteen book emails I get each day. This book is a fairly new release, and it reminded me that I hadn't searched Amazon in a while to see what other tea books are in the pipeline, so here's what I learned about this book and a few other titles:

Henrietta Lovell is best known as "The Rare Tea Lady". She is on a mission to revolutionize the way we drink tea by replacing industrially produced teabags with the highest quality tea leaves. Her quest has seen her travel to the Shire Highlands of Malawi, across the foothills of the Himalayas, and to hidden gardens in the Wuyi-Shan to source the world's most extraordinary teas. Infused invites us to discover these remarkable places, introducing us to the individual growers and household name chefs Lovell has met along the way - and reveals the true pleasures of tea.

Coming July 2020:

In The Healthy Matcha Cookbook, food blogger and dietitian Miryam Quinn-Doblas explores the various ways matcha powder—a main component of green tea—can be incorporated into everyday recipes to give your immune system the boost it needs to keep you healthy.

Coming June 2020:

The Day the Crayons Quit meets Winnie the Pooh in this hilarious and tea-riffic illustrated picture book about stuffed animals who start bickering at their tea party.

Coming July 2020:

A Dark History of Tea looks at our long relationship with this most revered of hot beverages. Renowned food historian Seren Charrington-Hollins digs into the history of one of the world’s oldest beverages, tracing tea's significance on the tables of the high and mighty as well as providing relief for workers who had to contend with the ardours of manual labour.

Coming May 2020:

What is the place of quality in contemporary capitalism? How is a product as ordinary as a bag of tea valued for its quality? In her innovative study, Sarah Besky addresses these questions by going inside an Indian auction house where experts taste and value mass-market black tea, one of the world’s most recognized commodities. Pairing rich historical data with ethnographic research among agronomists, professional tea tasters and traders, and tea plantation workers, Besky shows how the meaning of quality has been subjected to nearly constant experimentation and debate over the history of the tea industry. Working across political economy, science and technology studies, and sensory ethnography, Tasting Qualities argues for an approach to quality that sees it not as a final destination for economic, imperial, or post-imperial projects but as an opening for those projects.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Is this new fabric collection your cup of tea?

I got a new Keepsake Quilting catalog in the mail this week, and I was merrily thumbing my way through all the pretty new fabrics when I came across a new collection I'd not heard of, called …

The "My Cup of Tea" collection from Windham Fabrics. Now, I have forbidden myself from buying any more tea fabrics until I start using up some of the ones currently in my stash, but that doesn't mean I can't share new fabrics! And if you click on the Windham Fabrics website, you can see more detailed images of the fabric as well as two *free* quilt patterns.

And when I was looking for a link to this collection on the Keepsake Quilting site, I actually found a few more tea-ish items some of you might be interested in, so check them out here.

Monday, November 11, 2019

More adventures in teatime card making … and a small giveaway!

The other week, I used the last pennies of an Amazon gift card to order this stamp-and-die set, the Tea Time set from Gemini by Crafter's Companion in the UK. This set was intriguing to me because the die comes in two parts, so that you can cut out the complete design of the teacup stack or simply cut out one side and let it serve as the edge of a card. Could I do it?

Why yes! Yes, I could.

Actually, I had a few flubs along the way. First, I colored with alcohol markers, which I absolutely love, but …

It didn't dawn on me that they would bleed through. So, alcohol markers will need to be saved for when the full design is cut out and I'm adhering it to a card in a way that the back doesn't show. Lesson learned.

So I turned to my colored pencils and went with fall tones on another card. I've had fun creating a few of these teacup stack cards so far, and I decided I would offer some as a giveaway this month, but I couldn't decide which color would be most popular. A fall palette? Pinks? Blues? And then it occurred to me …

I'll let YOU decide! If you're a fan of coloring and would like to win a set of four color-your-own-design cards, just leave an "Enter me" to this post by Friday, November 15, at 7 a.m. EST and you'll be entered to win, making sure to leave an email address if I don't already have a way to contact you.  And happy coloring to the winner!

Friday, November 8, 2019

Cute Dollar Tree "Loot Bags"

I go in Dollar Tree almost every weekend, and on my last visit there, I wasn't looking for tea things, just my usual: batteries, dishwashing liquid (the BIG bottles of Palmolive in pleasant scents), hand soap, etcetera. But I was passing by an aisle with these "loot bags" on the end, and my tea radar made me hit the brakes.

Friends, I don't mean to rush your Christmas shopping, but we tea folks need to be aware of these NOW, so consider this a public service announcement. If you're making Christmas treats for tea-loving friends, I think these bags are just the thing to package them in. 

The bags are displayed with a piece of white paper behind them to show the images, but they're actually clear, as shown here at right. So if these might be of use in your own gift giving this year, please check them out!

UPDATE: I went back today, to my local store, and while I didn't find the bags, they did have plastic mugs, tins with a plastic lid, and plastic canisters, all with this design. Just an FYI!

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Twinings Jasmine Green Tea

One thing I have learned about my tea-sipping habit is that I can easily get in a rut. Last week, I polished off nearly all of my pumpkin spice tea, and this week, I wasn't surprised to find myself wanting something different, something lighter. Fortunately, I'd recently come across a great buy on one of the only Twinings teas I don't remember ever trying.

I love the pretty magenta color of this tin of Twinings Jasmine Green Tea. I found it on sale at Ollie's the other weekend for just $2.99, and the expiration date was still a year away, so I felt safe in buying it. When I opened the tin, I was surprised to see a freshness seal.

When I sniffed the green tea leaves, they had that lovely light floral fragrance that I so enjoy in jasmine-flavored teas.

Soon, I was happily sipping a refreshing new-to-me green tea, and it was the perfect tonic after perhaps going a little heavy on the spice teas. Do you mix it up with your tea selections? I'm wondering whether I'm the only one who hops from pumpkin spice to jasmine in the fall!

Monday, November 4, 2019

Vintage Christmas finds for teatime

Saturday's shopping included some fun finds at an antique mall in Villa Rica and a thrift store in Douglasville, and while I usually don't buy any vintage Christmas goodies this late in the year (I like to Christmas shop in July, when the thrifting is thriftiest), I actually found some bargains this "late" in the fall. And one reason I mention this is that I am on the lookout for any *vintage* publications with Christmas recipes. I have quite a few but am looking for more for a project I'm working on, so … if any of you happen to see or own old Christmas recipe clippings or booklets and care to share a photo, well, I would be most grateful!

My favorite purchase on Saturday was a vintage Christmas teacup, and surprisingly, it was just $6.95 at the antique mall. I have some other pieces that match it, but even if I didn't, I rarely turn down a vintage Christmas teacup that's under $10. The silver paper labels on the bottom are worn and I can't read them, but if I do a little research, I think I can figure out the maker. I was also hoping to find a new vintage Christmas tree pin at the antique mall, but alas, I didn't see one.

My other "vessels" were even better bargains. The four mugs (no maker, just a number on the bottom) were 20 cent each (new "tea mugs" for this Christmas), and the miniature Santa mug, while cracked and chippy, has character. He was 50 cents at the antique mall.

My other fun find from the thrift store was a box of old ornaments (nothing remarkable inside, and I'm pretty sure most of them were not Shiny Brite), but I loved this old box and figured it was worth $1.01 for the decor value.

Note the Uncle Sam and Santa Claus. Is it a fair assumption that this box was made around World War II? I just love forties and fifties Christmas items, and the prices at the thrift store are great. I also found a couple of inexpensive rhinestone pins, but alas, I found no vintage Christmas tree pin. 

I got back home late that night, and in the mailbox was a surprise from my friend Joy that made me smile from ear to ear … a vintage Eisenberg Ice Christmas tree pin! Now isn't that some fun timing? And don't worry. I'm not one of those women who puts up her Christmas tree the day after Halloween, but I do believe in shopping early for Christmas, and since I collect vintage Christmas items, I need to be vigilant at this time of year. We now return to our regularly scheduled month of Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 1, 2019

Guess who's having tea in Rochester?

Credit: Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

For years now, I have checked in with the Library of Congress website periodically to see if I could find any new *vintage* photos about tea or teatime. This week, I noticed for the first time that I can sort photos according to year of publication, and I wondered what the newer photos might look like. To my surprise, I found a photo of some absolutely marvelous sculptures that I'd never even heard of before! (Click here and you can use the drop-down menu under the photo to see it even larger.)

It says, "Artist Pepsy M. Kettavong's 2001 'Let's Have Tea' sculptures of women's suffrage pioneer Susan B. Anthony and escaped slave turned emancipation orator Frederick Douglass stand in Rochester, New York's Susan B. Anthony Square Park."

I would love to see these sculptures for myself one day (bucket list). If you happen to be in the neighborhood, you may want this on your bucket list of tea sites to visit as well!